CLEVELAND, OH: Starting pitcher Justin Masterson #63 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Progressive Field n Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Cleveland Indians are currently 5-1/2 games back of the first place Chicago White Sox, have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games, and sport a run differential of -66 that says they should be even worse than their 50-52 record. Because of this, there is reportedly interest in trading Opening Day starter Justin Masterson to an interested team.
As you would assume, given their covetous relationship with Masterson ever since he was dealt back in 2009, the Boston Red Sox are one of the teams hoping to acquire him should the Indians go through with moving him.
According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, Boston sent scouts to view Masterson's start on Saturday (as did the Rangers). Things didn't go well for Masterson, who had one of his worst starts of the year, allowing 10 runs (eight earned) to the Twins in 5-2/3 innings. His 2012 campaign has not been as impressive as his supposed breakout 2011, but the 27-year-old is still averaging 6-1/3 innings per outing, is leading the AL in starts, and threw 216 frames last year. He's also making just $3.85 million this year, his first of arbitration, giving whoever acquires him two more years of team control on a deal that will likely top out at around $9 million in its final season. As a back-end starter who makes his turn consistently -- one that still has upside thanks to his ability to induce grounder after grounder -- you could do a lot worse than Justin Masterson.
There are multiple ways to make room for Masterson in the rotation, should the Red Sox still be interested in acquiring him following his poor start. If the rumored Josh Beckett calls turn into anything, there's an obvious spot to fill, but Boston might also be more willing to let Masterson be their groundballer of choice, moving Aaron Cook out of the starting five. Cook has a 97 ERA+, but also has struck out just four batters in 40 innings, making it tough to be optimistic about the rest of his 2012 without improvement in his peripherals.